Category Music

Laughter is dead

This site started as an archive for my radio program on WZBC at Boston College. With time it grew to be something else, mostly a mess. That’s why I’m discontinuing the use of this site and starting fresh with a new one. I’ll move some articles from this site over to my new home at, but […]

photo of staple singers

The Staple Singers covering “Slippery People”

Awesome cover of Talking Heads’s “Slippery People” posted by Pour Me Coffee (thanks Brent Sirota): And a live performance of the original for anyone that needs to be reminded:

Pisaro at Big Sur

Interview: Michael Pisaro, A Conspiracy Against the Ordinary

Experimental music opens up our ears. Should we become too rigid or inflexible in our thinking, sound can point us toward broader avenues and unexpected possibilities. This, says Michael Pisaro, is one way that experimental music reaches out into the world. But, he says, it doesn’t just reach out, it invites listeners in and asks […]

portion of album cover from 2 Seconds...

Review: Michael Pisaro / Taku Sugimoto, “2 Seconds / B Minor / Wave”

Time of the metronomic kind gives shape to music. It defines the tempo of a song, fixes when sounds should and shouldn’t be played, and determines mood as surely as major and minor keys do. On 2 Seconds/B minor/Wave, Michael Pisaro and Taku Sugimoto reverse that relationship and employ sound to illuminate the physical shapes […]

Earl Scruggs with a banjo

RIP Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs passed away on March 28th, at the age of 88. You can read the New York Times obituary here and listen to NPR’s audio interview featuring Tony Trischka, Bela Fleck and Steve Martin talking about Earl Scruggs’s influence on them. Or you can just listen to his music and hear how awesome he was, regardless of who […]

What's up with noises video capture

Video: What’s up with Noises?

Vi Hart is a self-described “mathemusician” who works for the Khan Academy. The following video is her quick explanation of what happens when you hear a note, or lots of notes, and it includes an awesome description of the overtone series and how it works.

2011 Was a Great Year (not quite a “best of” list)

Musically and personally, 2011 was a phenomenal year. From The Field to AMM and Radu Malfatti, I listened to a tremendous amount of music and a tremendous variety of music; much more than I could keep up with. If I had to summarize it, this was the year of the composer and the improviser: Cornelius […]

a broken mirror

Laughtrack Mixes No. 8 and 9: Unplayable

Today was the day I had planned on uploading the last two shows I did on WZBC, in the wake of a Cardinals World Series victory, but apparently it wasn’t meant to be. All I have from those shows is a couple of playlists, unfortunately. Not sure what happened to my files, but you won’t […]

photo of pioneers resting near the mountains

July 2011: Laughtrack MP3 Mix No. 7

Eventually, once I’ve become accustomed to some new software, I will post a continuous mix of the music I’ve been listening to the most these last few months. Until then, you’ll have to settle for a late edition of Laughtrack with a dash of basic mixing tossed in. This one includes music from Francisco López, […]

Silence and the Wandelweiser Group

Since buying 2 Seconds / B Minor / Wave by Michael Pisaro and Taku Sugimoto, I’ve searched out information about the Wandelweiser Group to which Pisaro belongs and read a few essays written by Pisaro himself. Today, I stumbled on this Wandelwesier feature by Dan Warburton, which was originally published in Signal to Noise in 2001. […]

photo from London riots

Message from Chemikal Underground

The following message showed up on Chemikal Underground’s Twitter feed on Tuesday: The destruction of the SONY/DADC warehouse in Enfield last night and with it, the stock belonging to dozens of great independent labels distributed by PIAS UK, represents a sad and frustratingly bitter blow to the music industry at a time when it can […]

photo of Feldman writing

Let the Sounds Alone 01

I’m reading Give My Regards to Eighth Street right now and running head first into Morton Feldman’s philosophy, which somehow reminds me a little of Kierkegaard. Feldman is a very funny person, and very direct; sometimes I find what he has to say hard to swallow, but his conviction and passion are totally convincing, so […]

two swimmers featured in Life magazine

June 2011: Laughtrack MP3 Mix No. 6

Mix number six emphasizes electronic music in one form or another, with just a few exceptions, including a pair of chansons and a particularly unusual African tribal recording from Staring into the Sun. I hope you find them as entertaining and revealing as I did. Hearing Mick Harvey’s interpretation of Gainsbourg’s “Aux Enfants de la […]

still image from Eliane Radigue interview

Video: A Portrait of Eliane Radigue (2009)

I watched this video of a 2009 interview with Eliane Radigue this morning and was completely won over by the way she describes her writing process. It reminds me of a quote from Mark Hollis, which I’ve always appreciated: “Before you play two notes learn how to play one note – and don’t play one […]

Collateral Damage

David Keenan’s Collateral Damage

So arts funding has been slashed? Good. Is there anything more contradictory and hypocritical than a ‘radical’ music festival that’s essentially government sponsored? Mr. Keenan, how did you arrive here? I’ve read your opinion piece from the July issue of Wire (#329) numerous times, but it becomes more incomprehensible with every reading, and it’s at […]

Wire David Keenan feature

The Wire’s David Keenan: “You can’t find the music you want? Good.”

There’s a trio of opinion pieces up at Wire magazine’s website right now, all of them about the effects file-sharing has on labels, artists, and listeners. Between UbuWeb’s Kenneth Goldsmith and ReR’s Chris Cutler, there is a wealth of good information and great insights that I think music-lovers everywhere would do well to ponder. And […]

black and white photo of young John Fahey

New John Fahey Box Set on the Way

Exciting news from Dust to Digital came my way, today. Apparently info about a new John Fahey box set has been out there since the start of this month, but I haven’t seen mention of it anywhere else: Announcement: The John Fahey 5-CD box set for Dust-to-Digital was completed today, as of a few hours […]

detail of photo showing Sun Ra playing a keyboard

The Eternal Myth: 20 CD Sun Ra Box Set Forthcoming

Great news from Altered Zones, via FACT and Wire: Sun Ra will be issuing a humongous box set of rarities and unreleased goodies called The Eternal Myth Volume 1 that’s sure to make obsessives jump for joy. Produced by Sun Ra archive director Michael D Anderson and released by Transparency, the hulking release compiles more than 400 tracks from […]

Clarence Clemons

Rest in peace, Clarence

My mom claims she has a photograph of me around age 3 or 4, standing on our coffee table in the living room totally naked, except for a guitar around my neck. My fist is in the air and I’m singing “Born in the U.S.A.” as loudly as I can. Some of my earliest musical […]

blurry photo of Pisaro

Think the Note: Michael Pisaro on Challenging the Ear

This past week I read Bill Meyer’s review of the latest Michael Pisaro releases on Gravity Wave and ended up reading the small essay referenced in that article, as well. Besides my interest in music theory in general, I was intrigued by Meyer’s description of Pisaro’s strategy, which draws connections between baseball, The Temptations, John Cage, […]